This is my Grandpa Pexa. He is 101 years old. After an amazing life filled with so much love and abundance, his body is getting tired. Very tired. Turns out that it takes a lot of work to be 101. Who knew?
It’s hard – so hard - to speak the truth, but Grandpa is dying. Not because of any particular health issue, but because he is old. Simple as that. The end may still be weeks or even months away. But we are now facing the very difficult truth that his time with us is limited. And, having had Grandpa as such a constant and vital part of our lives for – well, forever….now we’re all trying to figure out how to reorder our reality, knowing he may be leaving us soon.….
It is almost impossible to consider. Unimaginable, really.
The picture above was taken only two days ago. I don’t think most people would guess his age. And you certainly wouldn’t guess having witnessed the active life he’s led, up until a few short weeks ago.
At the end of March, Grandpa was dancing with my Anna on her birthday. I only hope she holds on to that memory forever. Dancing with Great Grandpa on her fourth birthday. (And if she is too young to remember, I will - - I promise, I will remember….)
In some ways, Grandpa has been ageless.
At any give time, we all knew how old he was. We’ve celebrated his birthday with a big family gathering every year for as long as I can remember. Big chunky candles on the cake, announcing the year - 94...95...96....And we really did it up when Grandpa turned 100.
We all knew the “number,” but it never matched his lifestyle. Grandpa has always lived such a full life. We joked that his social calendar was busier than most of ours. We joked – but it was true too. Despite his increasing age, none of us really thought in terms of it signifying an end to his life. But obviously, we don’t get a choice in the matter....
So now, we’re circling the wagons. My family made the beautiful decision that Grandpa would live the last of his days in his own home. For 99 years, he lived on the same farmstead in Helena Township. And now for the last two years, he has happily settled into a lovely apartment in town. We will honor Grandpa by keeping him surrounded by familiar sights and sounds and smells. And surrounded - day and night - by people he loves (and who love him beyond words).
We’re all lining up for our chance to stay with Grandpa. And spots on the calendar are a hot commodity. Everyone wants their turn for an afternoon or a sleepover. Our family will have a sleepover next Thursday night. And until then, we’ll be frequent visitors. Holding hands, sharing a laugh and a memory. Whispering “I love you’s” and staring into gentle eyes. Or just sitting together. And knowing we don’t need to say anything at all.
And as much as we may give Grandpa during his last days, he’ll give it back to us tenfold. Funny how some things never change.
These days are a precious gift.